Liverpool started the match with Skrtel and Sakho in the centre, Toure right-back and Enrique on the left. The midfield remained unchanged from the Southampton game and Suarez rejoined the first team up front to partner Daniel Sturridge.
Manchester United came out of the stalls strongly and put Liverpool under a lot of pressure for the first ten or fifteen minutes. Liverpool then began to assert their dominance and had United pinned back in their own box.
The game seemed to undulate between phases where each side were on top, though neither side seemed able to pierce the defence well enough to get a decent strike on goal. There was a big battle going on in midfield with lots of pressing. Ryan Giggs ended up picking up a caution for a foul on Victor Moses and Lucas Leiva also joined him in the book for fouling Phil Jones. It was a shame that Liverpool couldn’t turn their first half pressure into goals.
Immediately after half-time, Man United broke the deadlock. Javier Hernandez latched onto a Wayne Rooney corner, leaving his marker Jose Enrique sleeping, and slotting the ball past Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. We now needed to make a comeback and immediately Liverpool started ramping up their game. Liverpool had most of the possession but couldn’t convert. Shinji Kagawa turned on the ball wonderfully in midfield and, breaking through to the edge of the box, let fly with a stunning shot, forcing Mignolet into a good fingertip save. Luis Suarez started getting closer and closer, hitting a corner from the left of the area into the side netting. Victor Moses was looking really sharp, with most of the attacks going through him. He had a wonderful diving header saved by De Gea which should have really brought us level. Suarez’s fee kick had a deflection off Phil Jones and clipped the crossbar. All he needed now was a goal.
Martin Kelly came on for Liverpool, taking the place of Lucas Leiva and forcing Jordan Henderson into the centre of midfield. United started to make some changes from the bench with Hernandez and Kagawa making way for Michael Carrick and Adnan Januzaj. Manchester United were relying heavily on the counter-attack. Henderson managed to get into the book and gave away a nicely positioned free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Rooney stepped up and Mignolet made an excellent parry save from him. Only a minute later Rooney again made Mignolet stretch for a save. The balance of power was changing.
Liverpool were playing really well and getting through to the final third easily enough. Yet, they lacked composure in attack and just struggled to put De Gea under pressure. Sturridge, in particular, seemed guilty often, of misplacing the final ball.
Moving into the last ten minutes and Ryan Giggs and Jordan Henderson had a tete a tete after Giggs, already on a yellow card, kicked the ball away to waste time. Referee, Mark Clattenburg, diffused the situation with no further action. Suarez broke through into the box and delivered a ball on a plate for Kolo Toure, who just couldn’t connect properly, skimming it wide. united held on to the final whistle and claimed a much needed victory. Final score: 1-0. We had the majority of the possession but just didn’t seem to have the necessary concentration to make that possession count. It’s been three poor performances on the trot for Liverpool now. That’s one of the three available pieces of silverware for the season, firmly out of our grasp. Let’s hope we can change our fortunes against the downtrodden Sunderland on Sunday.
Man Of The Match: Wayne Rooney – he set up the goal and was the most dangerous Man United player on the pitch, playing with passion.